When Bhajhan Mann attends the ninth WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico this weekend he will be closely observing how the participants perform.
But he won’t be doing it from the stands as a spectator.
Rather, Mann, 58, will be much closer to the action as he will do it in an official capacity – as a senior referee.
Holding a sixth degree black belt, along with being an instructor at Stouffville Taekwondo, Mann was one of 50 referees from around the world chosen to serve in this year’s championships.
He has twice served as a poomsae (forms) referee at the World Poomsae Championships.
On one other occasion, Mann was a sparring referee at the World Military Championships.
Along with those championships Mann has officiated in numerous open international events.
While there are 50 referees chosen from around the world for the championships, Mann was quick to note along with himself, there’s a maximum of 10 from each continent.
“From Canada, there’s just two referees including myself,” he said.
Having trained in the sport for more than 40 years along with teaching it for 31 and being the national poomsae referee chair and Ontario Taekwondo Association referee chair, Mann said the referee selection process is based on a candidate being a certified international poomsae referee with the World Taekwondo Federation.
Along with that, he noted candidates must take a five-day qualifications and refresher course.
“From that, the top 10 referees are selected from each continent based on their performance at the course,” he said.
Mann passed with flying colours and received word last month he had been chosen to serve as a senior referee in the championships.
During this year’s championships, he will referee the individual, team and pairs for all divisions of poomsae (patterns or forms).
This will include the preliminaries right through to the finals.
Prior to the start of the championships, Mann said they will have three days of training.
In reflecting on the role as a referee, Mann said the most challenging part is in being consistent.
“There are seven judges at each ring and we have to be able to see the same errors,” he said. “The highest and lowest scores are dropped and the remaining five scores are counted towards the final score.
“All scores are scrutinized at the end of each day and every referee has to account for their scores if they are not consistent with the other referees.”
Making his second appearance at the world championships, with the first being in 2010 when he was a sparring referee, Mann is looking forward to taking another active role.
At the same time, he feels the experience gained from this event will also assist him as a coach and in turn, be beneficial to aspiring Canadian students and referees.
“I’m very excited to be a referee at this event. It’s a real honour,” he said. “This experience will also help Canadian referees as I will be able to share this knowledge with them.”